Haiti – Ruminations

15 February, 15:49, by Simon Clark

See Also: Haiti: Lessons Learned in Plastics

I recently had the opportunity to head to Haiti, part of an effort to build a small scale recycling operation in the town of Jacmel. I’ll deal with the success or failure of the machines in another post, but here I wanted to get down some of my impressions of the trip as a whole, especially from the perspective of a first world maker.

We landed at the Port au Prince International Airport at around 3pm.  My cousin, Sarah, met us at the airport, and we went about the task of collecting our bags. We were travelling with a group of 12 people. My focus was entirely on the plastics project. The others are helping Sarah with other aspects of her work down here. Some of this work is at the home where she fosters between 3 and 5 kids at any given time. There is also a clinic where she leads a group of Haitian midwives assisting with births, pre and postnatal care, or education. Lastly there is a house, dubbed the OliveUs House, that our group has rented to house the midwives and women in need of a place to stay to get back on their feet.

With twelve people in the group, we had a lot of bags. I can only take credit for 3 or so. I brought a lot of plastics recycling bits, and a good haul of tools to use down here and leave when I head home. The rest of the bags are filled with clothes, prom dresses, cloth diapers, maternity pads, sewing machines and a plethora of other items. It’s a 3 hour trip over the mountains into Jacmel. We had a 3 ton flatbed truck belonging to Sarah to take the luggage, and a hired van to take the people.

The trip over the mountains was uneventful, for the most part, but it is hard to not notice the poverty around us, especially in the outskirts of the capital. Garbage is everywhere. People are everywhere, often on top of the garbage. Street dogs hunting for missed morsels of food compete with pigs and chickens, set loose in the mess to fend for themselves. Higher in the mountains, dusk, then full on dark greeted us, but the streets are still full of people. They are fetching water in jerry cans, deftly hopping out of the way as our driver rocketed us past. When we slow down for a speed bump, we hear thumps on the car panels as people hop on or off the back of the van, to shorten their walk. Those that aren’t out walking are clustered around the occasional light source, or sitting on the guard rail, watching us pass, or busy on their phones. With no power in the grid, the night is extremely dark.
We reached our destination at around 7:30, well past dark. There, we are introduced to Jean Moise Michel Jacmel, nine months old, HIV+, and severely undernourished and dehydrated. Moise was abandoned at the Jacmel hospital 5 days previously, and was ranking very low on the hospital’s priority list. They were more than glad when Sarah offered to take him home. Two days later, he’s with us at our first dinner in Haiti, and took a turn for the worse. We rushed him to Sarah’s, where she spent the night trying to rehydrate him. We now think he may be lactose intolerant, which could explain his poor health, and why he was abandoned at the hospital. Sarah suspects that perhaps the mother had died, as the malnutrition looks like a recent development. He’s doing better now, more alert and keeping most food down, but his future is still uncertain. It’s a stark reminder of the differences between Canada and Haiti, and how easy it is for life to go pear shaped when poverty is commonplace.

And poverty is everywhere there. In Jacmel, I heard rumours of an upper class somewhere, but I saw no evidence. The most egregious display of wealth was an old Mercedes utility vehicle that had an intact windshield. But despite the lack of resources, I saw very little evidence of crime, of violence, or of desperation. Most people don’t seem unhappy, although I learned that they have seen more than their share of sickness and death. But for the most part they are just getting on with it, and doing it with pride and resilience.

On one of our quieter days, my daughter, Juliet, and I had the opportunity to have lunch at the home of one of Sarah’s previous employees. St Emen is a short, happy woman, living in concrete shack in a field near Jacmel. She proudly showed us her home, quick to mention that she owns it herself. The aforementioned shack is their sleeping quarters, and holds two handmade single beds and an old hospital gurney.  This is where she, her partner, and 3-4 kids sleep. The kitchen is an old USAID tent across the dirt yard. Chickens run around our feet while we consume one of their brethren for our lunch.  There is also a generous helping of rice and beans, and a simple salad, washed with water in a jerry can that was hauled in from a communal tap a few hundred meters away. One day, perhaps, electricity will come to her and her neighbours, but that is a far off dream. After lunch, she goes digging under one of the beds, and comes out with a stack of pictures.
She shows me her 8 children, 5 of whom are still alive. She seems to feel this is an accomplishment, and I don’t know enough to disagree.

Our first full day was spent unpacking the many suitcase,s getting our bearings, and visiting the various sites where our work would be done.  Myself and a couple of my companions scavenged some wood, and built a workbench to assemble the machines on. The day after, I got to work.  Or at least, I tried to. I’d brought as many tools with me as I could, including Diyode’s plasma welder, but these aren’t much use without electricity. Haiti’s power grid is run entirely off of large diesel generators. Typically this are run for a few hours a day, starting in late afternoon and running through until sometime in the middle of the night. What we discovered was that our trip coincided with the lead up to Carnivale, a national party. Seems like they were hoarding the diesel for the party, as the power often didn’t come on at all until after midnight, and was off by the time I woke at 6am.

After a couple of days of struggling with an almost non-existent electrical supply, and a difficulty in acquiring materials, We decided to move the project to the workshop of Travis Knipple of F1 Engineering. Travis is Pennsylvania-born, and moved to Haiti after a number of humanitarian trips. He has a well-stocked workshop, where he builds stuff. Part of his mission is to empower Haitians by teaching them some of his skills, and to that end, he has several associates who he gives full access to his workshop, including lunch each day. These guys get to use his tools, space, and truck, and get jobs from other people in the area, mostly fixing motorcycles, and welding together gates and window bars. This provides them with a decent source of income, and means that when Travis needs help for his projects, he’s got a pool of talent nearby that already knows his tools, and how he works. This crew has a reputation as the best welders in Jacmel.

Before I even met Travis, I saw an example of one way that small ideas can have big impacts. Many Haitians use their phones as a lifeline. Cell service is cheap (I paid $4 for two weeks of service, comparable to what I pay $30 for in Canada).  The phones, however, are mostly cheap imports.  The batteries don’t last. Outside of Travis’s workshop there is a tree with a strip of 16 outlets screwed to it.  The outlets are powered off the grid when it’s available, the generator when it’s on, and solar or battery power the rest of the time. Not once did I see less than 10 people gathered around the shade of their tree, charging their phones, and chatting through the hottest part of the day.

It’s a simple idea with a big impact on the surrounding community. Travis’s relationship with the guys who use his workshop is similarly impressive. Rather than coveting his tools, he is sharing them freely. The wear and tear must be significant, but the skills learned, and the opportunities they create are life changing.

And it was from Travis where my biggest lesson of the trip came from.

I realized that as a maker in North America, we have endless opportunities to be creative, to innovate and build something new and amazing. We have access to the resources to make almost anything that we can imagine. But how often do we have the opportunity to fundamentally change someone’s life for the better? Sure, we build a cool clock, a better 3D printer, an innovative fridge magnet, but imagine figuring out how to build a simple $2 float switch out of available parts (something that could benefit thousands of homes in Jacmel alone), then teaching that skill to someone who could make a career out making and installing them. There are so many opportunities to apply a little bit of ingenuity, and bit of our knowledge of materials, electronics, or fabrication to problems that people around the world are facing every day.

There are a number of stellar examples of this. My mind goes to projects like the Gravity Light, or Joshua Silver’s self adjusting glasses, but my suspicion is that you could throw a group of makers at a place like Haiti, and they’d be hard pressed to not leave the place better than they found it.

Now don’t get me wrong. Being a maker in Haiti can be frustrating. Sitting here in Guelph, I can just order an arduino, RGB LEDs and some hall effect sensors off of amazon, and get started on the next great idea within a day or two. In Haiti, I’d be surprised if you could find any for sale in the whole country. Ordering anything for delivery is more than likely to get lost, if you’re lucky enough to have a n actually address. But the sheer quantity of problems that need a solution, and the potential impact that an ingenious idea could have are vast.

Haiti – Lessons learned in plastic.

15 February, 13:48, by Simon Clark

See also : Haiti: Ruminations

I started this project with a simple goal in mind. Build the 4 machines outlined on Dave Hakken’s Precious Plastic website, then build them again in Haiti. It is said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, and this story is no different.

When I left Haiti last week, I walked away from one functional machine, one untested machine, and one that barely worked at all. The fourth machine, we didn’t even try. Here I plan on taking an unflinching look at my successes, my failures, and the path that got me to them. Please settle in, this could get long. And boring…

This particular story starts in May, 2016. My cousin Sarah, a midwife in Haiti, discovered the Precious Plastic website, and contacted me to ask if I thought the plans were reasonable, and could work for her. She works with a lot of people in Haiti, trying to find sustainable sources of income. This, she reasoned could be another. My initial response was “I dunno. Let me look into it”, followed a few days later by “I dunno, but let me try”. I presented the plan at a Diyode meeting shortly there-after, and managed to convince a few other people to help. Notably Eva, Brennan, and Liam, who were instrumental in getting the machines as far as we did.

Now, my first mistake was thinking that 8 months was enough time to get these built, using an evening or so a week, and maybe some time on Saturday mornings. I also should have put on my project managers hat at the start, figured out timelines and deadlines, set some milestones, and thrown the whole thing on Trello. But my tinkerer’s heart is weak, and I just wanted to get started. I also had a great deal to learn about the tools I would need to use. The metal lathe and plasma welder would play prominent roles in the project, and I wanted to get more proficient with both.

The Shredder Build

The first machine that I tackled was the shredder, since without the shredder, the other machines just take up space. I decided to work with Hakken’s basic design in metric, meaning that the laser cutting would have to be done outside of North America. No one in North America that I contacted had access to metric thicknesses of stainless steel. I found a company in China that would cut them out, and actually do it cheaper than anything I could get done locally. I adjusted the dxf files to work with stainless steel hex bar stock that was easily available on North America, and we were off to the races. In hindsight, I should have also added mounting holes for the shredder and hopper, as I had to drill these later.

One of my design criteria for the shredder was that I wanted it to be built out of commonly available parts, so that it could be repaired using commonly available parts. In the Precious Plastics build notes, it says “scavenge a motor that runs at 70rpm, and 100N*m of torque”. OF course, scavenging in North America is no longer possible for the most part, and Hakkens gives no indication of what sort of machine this type of motor comes from. I struggled for a while with the best way forward with this. 100Nm is a LOT of torque, but at 100rpm (what I had geared down to), it was achievable with a 1.5HP motor. The motor cost me CAN$300, but can be gotten in the US for US$150.

For gearing, we experimented with several options. In the end, I decided to go with dual v-belts from the motor to a pair of 10″ pulleys. That transfers through a bearing to a pair of 12 tooth bike chain sprockets. The other end of the bike chains are 56 tooth sprockets from a mountain bike, welded to a tube that mates with the shredder head axle. This all made for a fairly complex build, but quite forgiving, in the end. The motor put off enough torque, and the belts and pulleys transferred it well. In the end, the weak points where the generator running the motor (it would cough and sputter when the motor pulled too many amps) and the shear pin between sprocket and the shredder head. The axle broke through every shear pin we threw at it, until we got up to a 3/8″ hardened steel motorcycle bolt. At this point, I was worried that there wasn’t enough stock left on the axle to stand up to the torque, since we had drilled the shear pin hole so big (the axle is 20mm diameter at the point where the shear pin connects, leaving just 5mm of steel on either side of the shear pin). This arrangement seemed to stand up ok, but I did notice there was some deformation of the shaft around the pin after some use, so I am not fully confident it will last forever.

If I had to do the shredder again (and I probably do), I suspect I would bite the bullet and go with an appropriate worm gear. This means lubrication is much more important, and we are no longer dealing in generic parts at all (The worm gear parts would probably cost $100 from somewhere like McMaster Carr), but the build would have been so much easier. I’m still mulling this over, though, and am open to suggestions.

So, now we have a fully functional shredder, except, it still ain’t perfect. You see, bottles have a tendency to just bounce around on top of the shredder teeth. This means pushing on them with something, or stopping the machine and reaching in to re-orient the bottle. Ideally, the shredder should be able to operate with no intervention. Just chew through whatever you put in until it’s done. This, however, was not the case. Also, even at 108 Nm of torque, it still struggled sometime with the hard plastic at the top of the bottles. It’s close to strong enough, and gearing down to 60 or 70 rpm would probably give it enough punch. I tried arranging the teeth in a spiral, a point (a spiral that reverses at the middle point) and randomly. A spiral seems to be optimum for minimizing the bouncing of the bottles. In some cases, a bottle would line up under the teeth, and cause a momentary spike in the required torque, but I am hoping by increasing the torque that little bit, that will address that as well. I am also playing with the idea of putting a heavy flywheel on the motor side of the gearing, but I need a better shear pin set up for that, I think.

The Extruder Build

Oh man, this one gave us some trouble.  And by us, I mean mostly Brennan and Eva, who absorbed much of the stress here.

Our biggest issue, the one that held us up for the longest, was with the extruder screw. We spent a lot of time looking for a screw solution that resembled the screws used in commercial extruder system. Our first option was to get a 24″ long, 1″ diameter fluted masonry bit. The cross sectional profile was good, but it was 2 fluted, and as such had a very aggressive pitch on the fluting. The other issue was that only the carbide on the point of the drill was 1″. The rest of the shaft was somewhere around 7/8″, but not even close to precise. Once we’d cut off the carbide, we were left with something that didn’t really fit into any commercially available pipe.

Our next option (and the one we shipped with) was a 1″ wood auger bit from McMaster Carr. This was precision ground along the whole shaft, fit well inside the stainless pipe, and looked to be quite reasonable. The profile was quite different from what is typically used, but I think it should work. Sarah will be testing it once she has the time and power at the same time. I’ll report back.

What I plan on doing, once I get some time, is create a custom jig for the milling machine that will allow us to machine custom screw profiles out of solid steel rod

For the body of the extruder, we started with stainless pipe, cut out the hopper hole, and welded on plates for the hopper to attach to, and two very hefty feet for it to mount to the frame. For the extrusion nozzle, we didn’t go with the end cap style interchangeable nozzles in Hakken’s designs. Instead we welded a solid plate to the front that we could bolt other plates to. If you go with this design, try to minimize the amount of metal you put on the front, as this will be a significant heat sink, if it is too big.

Another thing that tripped us up is that stainless steel warps very easily while being welded. Much more so than normal steel, it seems. Brennan, an experienced welder, took what he thought were small enough welds on the pipe, but once it cooled and we reinserted the auger bit, it was clearly significantly warped. Brennan was able to bend it back into shape with much effort, but it was not a fun job.

For the electronics on the extruder, we used a 100rpm 12VDC motor from MakerMotor.com, with a digital speed controller, and a 12v DC power supply design for high wattage LED installations. The band heaters were controlled by simple PID controllers bought off of Amazon, that came a solid state relay and K-type thermocouple.

My last lesson learned on this is tho avoid too much mass on the extruder tube. We felt, during the design stage, that the tube should be able to handle high pressures and high torques. We welded extra cladding onto the business end of the nozzle, extremely solid mounting feet, and a heavy front plate.  In hindsight, we may have over-estimated these factors, as this meant that the band heaters really struggled to heat up the tube.

We completed the extruder build on the second last day of the trip, fired it up, and got the auger spinning, and the tube heating, but we didn’t have any plastic pellets ready to put into it.  Then the power went out, and didn’t come back on until after we left for the airport.

The Compression Oven Build

The oven was the one item that I went down with a very ill-formed plan on how I was going to get done. Sarah had told me that she had an old autoclave that could be used for parts, but not knowing what it looked like on the inside, I decided to just wing it. Our preparations in the weeks before leaving had gotten a bit desperate, and I was happy to take the oven off my plate in favour of the other machines.  Plus, I reasoned, it was the simplest build, and the one that most relied on what we would be able to scrounge once we arrived. I was pretty sure I could get it heating with a PID controller and a solid state relay, and that with enough time to throw at it, I could probably pull something off.  So, flying by the seat of my pants, I decided to make most of my decisions down there.  For the compression mechanism, I reasoned that there would be plenty of access to car jacks of one sort or another down there (wrong!). For the oven part, I assumed I would be able to scavenge parts from an electric oven (Oh so very very wrong), and insulation to put around it (holy hell, are we starting to see a pattern here?). I had no luck finding an old car jack. No-one has electric ovens in Haiti.  They are all gas, as the electrical supply is so unreliable. And lastly, Haitians have very little need of insulation, since it doesn’t get cold, and almost no-one has air conditioning. Freezers are everywhere, but not clad in heat resistant insulation, more likely to be styrofoam. Given more time, I may have been able to find an old gas stove to take apart for some fibreglass batting, but alas, time was too short for that.

I was able to get my hands on the old autoclave. This provided a small heating element, and so we built as small an oven as we could. But without insulation, it was radiating heat as fast as I could pump it in, so getting up to temperature was damn near impossible. I’m pretty sure that with a good thickness of insulation, and an outer metal shell, it is much more likely to work well.

My other compromise, which I am also second guessing at this point, was with the compression mechanism. The precious plastics design calls for a car jack underneath the oven. All that I could find on the ground in Haiti was a trailer tongue jack. Since those are designed to be jacked from the top, the only good way to arrange it was with the jack on top of the oven. This means that there is less space between the heating element and the plastic being melted, and probably uneven heat. Jacking from the bottom really is the optimal arrangement.

My plan for compression forms was to make plates and bowls. Before leaving Canada, I bought a variety of stainless steel bowls and enamelled camping plates. These seem like a really good place to start, and Sarah has had some luck getting plastic in them to melt and form, just not with enough heat to get a nice solid shape yet. If I had time, I would also fabricate a custom fitted metal cylinder for each set of forms, to help guide the compression. Having not successfully made anything with the oven yet, take this with a grain of salt.



Happy Birthday, Liam!!

07 February, 13:49, by EvaB

Almost Haiti

13 January, 21:12, by Simon Clark

It’s been about 6 months since we first started working on the plastic project for Haiti. A great deal has gotten done in that time, many challenges overcome, others, not. Our original goal was to make all four machines for the foster home, as well as a set for Guelph. Top priority was the shredder, since without that, the other machines wouldn’t get far. We also put a great deal of importance on building something that could be maintained, repaired and modified in a place like Haiti, where the hardware stores are quite as well stocked as they are here.

So now, 2 days before we leave, I wanted to give a quick update. The shredder, as planned, is fully functional. We’ve broken it down for transport, and will need to rebuild the bulkier parts of it down there. The biggest issue we had with the shredder was finding a beefy enough motor to get the torque we needed. Scavenging is not th art form it once was, and we ended up purchasing a 1.5 HP motor and building what we needed to to gear it down.

The Extruder is largely built, bit the finishing touches will happen in Haiti. Eva, Brennan, and Andrew pulled out all the stops to get us there, and without them, I don’t think we’d be making filament any time soon. We settled on using a wood auger bit for the extruder screw, since that was the only thing really available. We are hoping to machine a better screw after the trip, and ship it down once it’s done.

The compression oven will largely be built down there, although we feel confident we have solved most of the big problems, and have everything we need to get it up and running.

The only bit we decided to back off on was the injection moulder. After much research, we decided that with the power issues in Jacmel, and the bulk of the moulds, perhaps the injection moulder would be best to wait.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting more of the story, photos of the builds down there, and the machines up and working. Stay tuned.

Plastics Recycling Project

09 July, 10:54, by Simon Clark

TL:DR – Diyode is building a series of open source machines for recycling plastics. In January, I’m planning on travelling to Haiti to install them in a foster care home so the residents can turn trash into useful and saleable items.


A little while ago I got an email from my cousin, Sarah. Sarah is a midwife working in Jacmel, Haiti. She trained in the Philippines, but re-located to Haiti in 2008, looking to go where she could do the most good. 8 years later, her clinic in Haiti is going strong, and the foster care home she started in the wake of the 2010 earthquake is about to move into new digs. You can read more about her work there at the Olive Tree Projects website.

The reason she wrote to me that day was that she was looking for a better way to deal with the deluge of plastic waste in Jacmel. In years past, she had collected it, and sold it to a plastics recycling company in Port au Prince. With the plummeting price of crude, that’s no longer a viable option. That’s when Sarah ran across a project out of The Netherlands called Precious Plastic developed by a guy named Dave Hakkens. Precious Plastic has developed a series of open source machines designed for low tech recycling of hard plastics. With a little modification these machines can be adapted for life in Haiti. Sarah wanted to know if Diyode would be interested in helping to build and modify these machines.

View post on imgur.com

The machines that we are planning on building for Haiti include a shredder, an extruder, an injection moulding machine and a compression oven. The shredder will allow us to take hard plastic in the form of bottles, packaging, or other waste and shred it down into small pellets that can then be used in the other machines. The extruder will take the pellets and turn them in the long strands of various shapes, and possibly even hose. The injection moulding machine will make various other shapes by injecting molten plastic into prebuilt forms machined out of metal. The compression oven is a simpler machine that would allow us to make things like plates and bowls. Altogether, they should allow the citizens of Jacmel to turn the garbage that’s hanging around the city, often littering the streets, into more useful things that they can use in their houses or even sell.

There will be several challenges that we need to overcome in order to make this project a reality. First of all, the machines need to work very reliably and in a very high humidity environment. Secondly the electrical supply in Haiti is spotty at best. We need to make sure that the machines will be useful even if electricity isn’t reliable. This means making sure the machines like the shredder will work on bicycle power, or other alternate forms of power. The extruder, although it will always need electricity to heat the barrel, could also use human power to turn the barrel driveshaft. We also need to adapt the machines to be field reparable using materials easily found in Haiti.

So, over the next six months we have several challenges ahead of us. First we need to raise the money to pay for all materials will need to build these machines. My current estimate is will need about $500 to $700 for each machine. Our plan is to build one set of the machines that will stay in Guelph and be used to innovate further, and help educate people about plastics recycling. We will then build a second set of machines that will travel down to Haiti with me in January or February. These need to be able to pack down for easy shipping and be assembled and welded together once we get there.  The original designs from Precious Plastic call for salvaged specialized machinery that simply isn’t available in Haiti. Some of the gear boxes would be very hard to replace or repair if they break. Our goal is to redesign these components so they are made of very common materials like bike gears or washing machine parts and can be repaired with very few specialized skills.

Then there is the work of determining the best way to recycle unknown and waste plastics in an environment where many of the regulations may not of been followed in the manufacture. This means finding reliable ways of identifying what kinds of plastics were dealing with, sorting them into available types and then determining appropriate uses for the known and unknown plastics. For instance, the extruder could be used for developing filament for 3-D printers, but 3-D printer filament needs to be very high-quality and of a very specific known plastic type so that the extruder can be set the right temperature. Plastics found on the street may not be able to be sorted to provide the quality needed. However, filament made of mixed plastic could still be used for other things, weaving or tiedowns, for instance.

One of my goals is to modify the extruder so that it can extrude useable pipe for irrigation, but for that to be truly useful, we also need to be able to make injection moulds for pipe joiners and splitters. In all likelihood, once we start playing, we’ll find other uses for these plastics.

So really we have lots of fun challenges ahead of us in the next few months and lots of interesting things to do in the shop to make this a reality.

So, if you’re interested in getting involved, maybe helping out with the build or the design of the machines, or even if you  are just able to contribute some funds to be able to cover the cost of developing and shipping of these machines, please contact us. We would be very excited to work with you.

If you want to donate to the project, please enter an amount below. We are sadly unable to issue tax receipts at this time.


Artist in Residence – Call for Artist at Diyode

29 February, 17:29, by EvaB

Here is your chance to explore the many resources Diyode has – from tools to the exceptional talents of the many members.

Come join us!


Neighbourhood Christmas Angel

17 January, 21:10, by EvaB

This Neighbourhood Christmas greeting was made by one of our new members, Elbert van Donkersgoed.  The angel was designed by Nellie van Donkersgoed.  The angel was crafted by Elbert in his own shop. The support holding the angel on the rock was welded at Diyode.

angelbyhouseangel on rock

The display will be up throughout January at 22 Glasgow Street North.

Tilt Table for Veterinary Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Surgery

24 June, 23:10, by EvaB

This is a project that has been ‘in the works’ for a few months.  The thought started through my residency at the University of Guelph veterinary school, where we are doing increasing number of laparoscopic (keyhole) surgeries.  Having a table that allows us to tilt a patient side to side and end to end would let the organs move around inside the abdomen, allowing us to see where we need to work better.  Traditionally this is done by putting sandbags under the patient; but this is very cumbersome and difficult to finely adjust.  Also, being a taller person, I found that sometimes the table couldn’t go high enough, and hunching over all day is no fun!  I started looking at what commercial products are available, but most of them didn’t do quite what I wanted, and/or cost far more $$$ that I had.  I started drawing up my own designs, and made some super rough models out of wood scraps, and finally though I had a good design.

I mostly used the welder at DIYode, but also many of the metal shop tools; the drill press, grinder and such, and also the metal lathe (with much appreciated help from more experienced hands than I have – thanks Brennan) to make all the metal parts, and the plastic bushings and such I needed for all the pivots.  It took a bit of scrounging; the casters, linear actuators, stainless steel feet, polycarbonte and polyethylene sheets for the table surface and electrical boxes all came from various people off of kijiji; the power supply, switches, bolts and steel was bought new.  The only work outsourced was getting a nice powder coating done on the final assembled pieces.  The table is now all assembled, and works like a charm.  I expect it will help save my back from hunching, and make my life easier doing surgery for years to come.  Thanks to everyone at DIYode for developing the facility and giving me the help I needed to get this project done!

Here is a video link to the finished, working table:  https://youtu.be/FwrDHRp3vbw

-Evan Crawford

















The Heart of Making

02 June, 21:24, by EvaB

250 years ago, you may have made every object in your home, or known the person who did make it.  Fast forward to today, and not only is it quite possible that every object in a Canadian home is made by some else, but that someone lives on the other side of the planet.  If you remember the cult classic movie from the 1990’s, Fight Club, there is scene where the inventory of the protaganist’s apartment is taken, showing each objects IKEA name and sku number ‘Elegant Solutions for Affordable Living’.  He was proud of his spartan, anonymous home.

I would argue that we have lost something by filling our homes with objects that we do not have an emotional connection with. I think a sense of self and place is greatly increased if you are surrounded by objects in your home that you made, or that were made by someone you know.   I have the great fortune to live with a knitter, and I assure you that a hat knit by someone who loves you, is 10 times warmer than any hat from a store.

The maker movement is in part a direct response to people wanting physical objects in their lives to have a direct connection to their own hands and minds.  One of my favorite things I have made at Diyode was a new fridge door handle. My kids had broken the old handle, and I thought about buying one, but did not think I could find one that matched.  So I took the old one as a starting point, and carved a new door handle, out of white oak.  When I started I had no idea how to carve wood, but it turned out wonderfully.  It’s the only one like it.  I touch it many times a day, and enjoy the knowledge that I made it.

I encourage you to consider making instead of buying, and to love the asymmetry of an object made by an absolute novice, as compared to the perfect version from an unknown factory thousands of miles away.  To quote a famous song lyric from Canadian song-writer, Leonard Cohen. ‘There is a crack in everything – That’s how the light gets in’

-John Roberts

DIY Phone Home

13 May, 21:09, by Mark Zander

ShopTelephone  The workshop now has a Telephone. It has 911 access in case of emergencies. It is kept on top of the filing cabinet in the front room.

You may use this phone for incoming and outgoing calls. The number is (226)706-4149.

This is the main phone number which we publish. So make a great impression if you answer the phone and answer with “Diyode Community Workshop! How may I help you?”

If you hear the phone ringing, only answer it if you are a) expecting a call or b) are willing to deal with who ever is calling. The phone has voice mail so if you don’t answer it we will get a message